Pismo Beach Council votes against dunes rule
November 2, 2011
By KAREN VELIE
The Pismo Beach Council rejected a proposed fugitive dust rule for the Ocean Dunes Vehicular Recreation Area because it determined the study the rule is based on appears flawed.
On Tuesday, the council voted 4-0 to send a letter to the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollutions Control District Board (APCD) asking members to address flaws in the study before adopting rules based on it. The APCD created the study that shows a link between off-road vehicle use on the dunes and unhealthy air pollution levels downwind from the dunes on the Nipomo Mesa.
APCD Administrator Larry Allen argued that the purpose of the study was to protect public health and not to keep vehicles off the dunes.
“The goal of the rule is to bring the area into compliance as to the health standards without interfering with the vehicle recreation area,” Allen said. “We don’t shut faculties down because they are out of compliance.”
If the APCD Board approves the rule, the district would have the ability to fine the state up to $1,000 a day when air testing downwind from the vehicle recreation area does not meet the APCD’s air quality standards.
Park superintendent Andrew Zilke said that state officials are concerned with public health, but did feel the APCD has been collaborating with the state on finding the best solutions. Scientists working for state parks have been measuring wind speeds at the dunes and report speeds 70 percent higher then those measured by the APCD, demonstrating flaws in the APCD study.
“We are concerned with public health,” Zilke said. “A collaborative process is where people are working together. Collaboration does not exist under the veil of regulation.
“We are suggesting best management practices instead of the rule to work together.”
Councilman Ed Waage penned the approved letter in which he argues that several flaws, such as issues with wind speed testing in the APCD study, need to be addressed before the board adopts rules based on the study.
During the past year, state parks has been measuring wind speeds at the dunes and reports speeds 70 percent higher then those measured at the fire station by the APCD. Waage notes in his letter that the fire station where the APCD did their wind speed checks stands behind several rows of tall trees.
“Higher wind speeds will have a significant effect on some of the conclusions of the study so it is imperative that the more recent data on wind speeds be used to reevaluate those conclusions,” Waage wrote in the letter approved by the council.
Pointing out additional flaws in the APCD study’s rational; Councilman Ted Ehring said that dunes are natural features with blowing sand that people with breathing problems should avoid.
“I am a geologist and I have worked on sand dunes,” Ehring said. “It is a natural feature, it is going to take place, and people with asthma probably shouldn’t move into a dune area.”
Addressing her questions to park superintendent Zilkey, Mayor Shelly Higginbotham asked what guarantee the APCD and Mesa residence have that state parks will work to discover if vehicle’s on the beach increase air pollution and if so to decrease levels if the fugitive dust rule is rejected by the APCD Board.
“We have a resolve to deal with the public health issue,” Zilkey said. ‘We can’t dodge it, we can’t stonewall it, but we can certainly question it where we have concerns. Wouldn’t you?”
Last week, the Oceano Community Services District Board voted 4-0 to send a letter to the APCD Board opposing the proposed rules to place fines on the state for not improving air quality at the dunes.
The APCD Board is slated to vote on the fugitive dust rule on Nov. 16.